In this well-known design from the Hana ikada series by Kuniyoshi a man cautiously approaches his female lover while observing the cat behind them. The following dialogue ensues, ‘Is Oriki really Sleeping? She asked me to come, and yet she’s already asleep. I bet she’s just pretending (literally ‘racoon-dog sleeping’). We’ll soon see which it is.’ Oriki murmurs, ‘He was so late turning up that I pretended to be asleep, but that hasn’t stopped him.’
They joke about how much he has to pay her, suggesting that she is a prostitute but that this is her secret lover rather than a client (erotic depiction of prostitutes are typically such scenarios). They end up exchanging a passionate kiss. The peacefulness of the sleeping cat is beautifully counterbalanced by the restlessness of the couple. This was a popular design at the time since it also appears in Kuniyoshi‘s Hana goyomi.
Source: ‘Shunga, Erotic Art in Japan‘ by Rosina Buckland
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